Thousands of riot police and demonstrators clashed on Sunday (26 March) at the start of a week of protests planned to lead up to the long-delayed opening of Japan's new international airport at Narita.
TGV Police and demonstrators clash
TGV Truckload of demonstrators break through police cordon into airport and petrol bomb thrown (2 shots)
GV Car burning
GV Demonstrator on ground beaten and kicked by policeman
TGV Police with riot shields clash with demonstrators, water cannon in use
GV Police fire hand guns over demonstrators' heads
AERIAL V Demonstrators on control tower (2 shots)
LV Demonstrators smash glass and get into control tower
LV Demonstrators smash equipment in control tower
LV Worker being hauled from tower into helicopter (2 shots)
GV Riot police smash glass of control tower, gas grenade thrown and bounces off glass
GV Riot police break into control tower and clash with demonstrators inside
SV INT Arrested demonstrators led away
Even if the airport does open on Thursday, (30 March), there will still be problems. Seventeen farming families are still living inside the airport complex where two more runways are due to be built. And the 33 airlines involved in the move to Narita are also facing problems. There's still uncertainty over vital fuel supplies for aircraft, and for the traveller too, Narita poses difficulties. The trip from Tokyo to Narita can take anything from a minimum of 90 minutes on a clear road to four-and-a-half hours in heavy traffic. And the least it will cost the traveller for a cab is 12,000 yen -- 51 Dollars -- that is if traffic is light. One newspaper has described the airport complex at Narita as the Government's "greatest post-war folly".
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Background: Thousands of riot police and demonstrators clashed on Sunday (26 March) at the start of a week of protests planned to lead up to the long-delayed opening of Japan's new international airport at Narita. The opening has already been put off 10 times -- it is now due to open on March the 30th -- and 12 years of bitter clashes have claimed five lives, while 8,000 policemen and demonstrators have been injured.
SYNOPSIS: Thirteen thousand police were mobilised to combat the demonstrators, mainly left-wingers who've been backing farmers who have lost their land to the new airport complex. Hurling petrol bombs, one truckload of demonstrators battled their way through the police cordon and into the airport.
In savage fighting, scores of people were injured. Riot-equipped police battled with demonstrators in some of the bloodiest hand-to-hand fighting....and water cannon were called in.
At one stage police fired over the heads of the demonstrators... and later, one was found to have a pistol wound in his leg.
Six of the protesters managed to get onto the top of the airport's control tower...and they smashed their way inside.
Once inside, they began breaking up navigation and airport guidance systems. Experts were later checking to see if they'd cause enough damage to force yet another delay in opening Narita.
Five airport officials were winched to safety by a helicopter.
Finally, riot police stormed the occupied tower and battered their way inside...but even then they ran into unexpected problems when a tear-gas canister bounced back among them.
Amid a cloud of tear gas, police finally regained control of the tower....but not without more savage fighting.
The six protesters who'd taken over the tower were finally arrested and let away. About another hundred arrests were made by police.